Violet on a Moving Bus, Which Began at a College, Will Resurface at A.R.T. | Playbill

News Violet on a Moving Bus, Which Began at a College, Will Resurface at A.R.T. The site-specific production of the musical, directed by Sammi Cannold—who is at the helm of Ragtime on Ellis Island—will be staged in the Boston area.
Arianna Vogel in Cannold's Violet Chris Sackes

Director Sammi Cannold’s production of Violet, the musical about a girl who hops a Greyhound to seek out a televangelist in Tulsa, OK, will resurface at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. The staging, set on a moving bus, first came to life at Stanford University in 2013.

Performances will run April 4-15, 2017. Violet features music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Brian Crawley and is based on The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts.

“When we did it at Stanford, we stopped at various locations, and people would get off the bus, but it was basically dorm lounges at Stanford that we converted into a nightclub and a church,” says the 22-year-old director. “But I’m really excited that when I do it at A.R.T., we are actually stopping in a real church, and we’re figuring out what’s going to look like a nightclub, so it will be very, very site-specific.

“We start rehearsals in late February, and it will be on a 36-seat bus, and it’s a very limited audience size. Tickets, I believe, go on sale through A.R.T. next month. For anyone who is dying to see Violet on a bus, I would encourage looking for tickets now because by virtue of it being on a bus, it is theatre for small audiences, but I think that’s kind of the beauty of it.”

Read the full interview with Cannold here, about how she will stage the upcoming Ragtime concert on Ellis Island.

Cannold, who has a Bachelors in Drama and History from Stanford University and a Masters in Arts Education from Harvard University, is the artistic fellow at the A.R.T. Through working with director Diane Paulus on Broadway’s Finding Neverland, she was given the opportunity to direct at A.R.T.

“They are very encouraging of if there’s something you want to do, pitch it,” says Cannold, “so I went through a few pitch meetings and said, ‘Look this is Violet. I think it’s exactly the kind of show that A.R.T [should do, and] it fits with our mission statement.’”

Click here to read more about how the production took shape at Stanford University in 2013.

Cannold will also be an assistant director on Broadway’s Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, which was re-imagined at A.R.T. last year in anticipation of its Broadway premiere.

For more information on A.R.T.’s season, visit

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